Earlier this year, Canon replaced its outdated cube-shaped MG-series (consumer-grade photo) Pixma printers with new TS-series Pixma models. Meanwhile, the Pixma TR8520 Wireless Home Office All-in-One Printer ($199.99), one of two models in the Canon’s TR series (it has a slightly lower-end sibling, the soon-to-be-reviewed Pixma TR7520), edges out the past-its-prime MX-series (family and home-based office) Pixmas. Specifically, the TR8520 replaces the Editors’ Choice Pixma MX922. The TR8520 all-in-one printer is smaller than the Canon MX922, redesigned in and out, and supports Bluetooth, making it our new top pick for family and home-based office, low-volume printing and copying.
More Than a Pretty Face
Canon says that the TR8520 is 35 percent smaller than the MX922, which the company attributes to a new print engine, smaller circuit boards and power supply, an improved paper path, and reworked internal design—in other words, it was redesigned. Measuring 7.5 by 17.3 by 13.8 inches (HWD) with its trays closed, and weighing 17.5 pounds, the TR8520 really is significantly smaller and more than 8 pounds lighter than its predecessor, making it a much more comfortable fit for the average desktop.
Even so, there’s no shortage of petite printers in this category these days. But that’s partly because many of them don’t have automatic document feeders (ADFs) for sending multipage documents to the scanner. In contrast, the TR8520 comes with a 20-sheet ADF, which is slightly smaller in capacity than the HP Envy Photo 7855’s 35-sheet document feeder, though neither of them support auto-duplexing for scanning and copying multipage two-sided documents. The HP 7855 is about 6 inches longer than the TR8520 and weighs about half a pound less, whereas Canon’s own ADF-less Pixma TS9020 and Editors’ Choice TS8020 are inches smaller in all directions, and both models weigh about 3 pounds less than the TR8520.
Also similar in size and weight to the TR8520 is the Epson Expression Premium XP-640 Small-in-One, and it has no ADF. (As you can see, the field of family- and home-office-oriented inkjet AIOs is quite large; between the four major inkjet printer manufacturers—Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP—there are so many that discussing them all here isn’t feasible.)
In terms of paper handling, the TR8520 can hold up to 200 sheets, split between a paper cassette up front, beneath the control panel, and a 200-sheet upright tray at the back of the chassis. You can also use the rear tray for feeding the printer up to 20 sheets of premium photo paper. Both the Canon TS9020 and TS8020 come with the same 100/100 two-tray configuration; the HP 7855 has one 125-sheet paper drawer, as well as a 15-sheet photo paper tray, which is similar to the Epson XP-640’s 100-sheet paper drawer and 20-sheet photo paper tray.
While the TR8520 doesn’t look much like its predecessor, the Canon MX922, it does deploy the same five inks. In addition to the standard four die-based process color inks—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK)—you also get a pigment-black ink that darkens text and black areas in photos, as well as increases the color gambit (range). Epson’s XP-640 uses five inks, too, and the Canon TS9020 and TS8020 each use six (the pigment-black ink and a photo-gray ink that not only expands the color gambit, but also increases the quality of grayscale photos). HP’s Envy 7855 comes with just the four process color inks. That, and its support of HP’s Instant Ink subscription program, makes it the least-expensive of these models to use, especially when printing photos.
Configuring the TR8520, as well as setting up and initiating walkup tasks, such as making copies or printing from cloud sites, is handled from a spacious and easy-to-use 4.3-inch color touch LCD that, aside from the power button, comprises the entire control panel. As for the TR8520’s maximum monthly duty cycle and recommended monthly print volume, as we saw with the TS-series Pixmas earlier this year, Canon doesn’t publish these numbers for its consumer-grade (as opposed to business-oriented) printers anymore.
Setup, Connectivity, and Software
Setting up the TR8520 is simple and straightforward, though it does entail an extra step or two more than most other inkjet AIOs. Even so, once you plug it in and turn it on, the TR8520’s big control panel walks you through each process—from unpackaging and loading the five ink cartridges to filling the two paper trays. No part of the installation process is left for misinterpretation.
Aside from the printer and scanner drivers, the software bundle includes: Scan Utility, Canon’s fairly robust scanner frontend; Printer Assistant; Image Display; My Image Garden (a collection of filters and utilities, including Easy PhotoPrint, Creative Filters, Full HD Movie Print, Image Correction/Enhance, Image Cropping, and Red Eye Correction); and Quick Menu (a collection of icons that reside in the lower-right corner of your screen and provide, well, quick access to the features listed here and others).
As the flagship TR-series model, the TR8520 comes with the most connectivity options. Those include: Wi-Fi; Ethernet; wired and wireless PictBridge for printing photos from specific Canon cameras; a USB port; an SD card slot; and Bluetooth 4.0 for printing easily from mobile devices. Other mobile printing options are Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Canon Print app (for printing emails), Pixma Cloud Link, and a few others.
Just Fast Enough
One thing that most of these family-oriented AIOs have in common is that, unless they’re printing small photographs, they’re slow. No matter what it says on the box or internet ad about “Fast 15 pages per minute,” 15ppm for printing everyday text documents is slow, compared with their business-oriented counterparts. An equally priced business inkjet, such as Canon’s Maxify MB2720, is rated (by Canon) at 9 pages faster than the TR8520’s 15ppm, and it actually prints at least that much faster, too. (I tested the TR8520 over Ethernet from our standard Intel Core i5-equipped PC running Windows 10 Professional.)
Of the other models discussed here, all but the Epson XP-640 (13ppm) are also rated at 15ppm for simple monochrome pages. That said, I clocked the TR8520 printing our 12-page, simply formatted Microsoft Word document at 12.8ppm. That’s only a tenth of a ppm faster than the HP 7855, a tenth of a ppm slower than the Canon TS9020, 2.5ppm faster than the Canon TS8020, and 3.3ppm faster than the Epson XP-640.
When I combined the results from the previous simple 12-page Word document with those from printing our color PDF, Excel and PowerPoint graphics- and photo-laden documents, the TR8520’s speed plummeted by about 60 percent, to 4.7ppm. That 60-percent difference may sound like a lot, but it’s not unusual; even with those low results, it beat the other AIOs discussed here. It was even a full 1ppm faster than one of them, the Epson XP-640 (3.2ppm).
As mentioned, these home-based AIOs typically print photos relatively faster than they do documents. The TR8520 printed our two sample photos at an average of 35 seconds, which was second to the slowest here, but still well under a minute.
Worth the Wait
When it comes to output quality, especially photos, the competition in this genre is steep. While some print better than others, none are, well, unacceptable. Canon’s five- and six-ink, photo-enhanced AIOs consistently produce some of the best photographs I’ve seen, and the TR8520 is no exception. The text in our test documents came out crisp, well-shaped, and easy to read down to where I needed magnification to see it, and beyond. Large type, too, looked good, with no jagged edges.
Our test PowerPoint handouts and Excel charts printed with evenly flowing gradients and solid fills. Only one chart, which has a solid black background, showed any banding, though it was fairly significant (and probably correctable with some tweaking). But all the other color documents, even those with features that many printers don’t successfully reproduce, looked better than good, more than acceptable for home and homework use.
But it’s photos that are Canon inkjets’ bread and butter, and like its predecessor and siblings (and some competitors), the TR8520 consistently churns out very bright, vibrant, detailed and accurately colored photos. If you start with good digital content, you’ll be pleased with the hard-copy images.
A Race With Many Winners
There are obviously a lot of contenders here when it comes to high-quality AIOs. The trick is to find the right feature mix for the right price. If print quality is your primary requirement, most of the AIOs I’ve mentioned will serve you well. The Canon Pixma TR8520, along with its TS-series siblings and the Epson XP-640, all churn out exquisite photos and documents. The four-ink HP 7855’s photos are more than passable (and, when you use that company’s Instant Ink program, the least expensive to print). If a need for economic photo printing outweighs your desire for the best possible prints, the HP model is a sensible choice. Otherwise, given its wide range of features, including an ADF, and terrific overall print quality, the TR8520 is our Editors’ Choice AIO for home office and family use.